All of the RPG’s I have played have certain numbers that define the characters innate ability. I find these define the game that will be played more than any other aspect. It is what the characters look towards to see where they are in relation to others in the world, and what they deem they are reasonably capable of. Silk Road will be no different. My intent is to avoid a few problems I have seen, while hopefully improving others.
Intelligence stats have always bothered me. I’ve seen many a character use their advanced intellect to their advantage, and I’ve even triggered their characters genius level intellects when the players were being anything but genius. What I have rarely seen is characters being blithering idiots used to their disadvantage. Such as hearing a noise in the woods and thinking a rabbit was an owlbear, or an owlbear a rabbit. Or falling for simple cons on the street. It is simply too hard to project anothers intellect upon ones self. How can I roleplay Stephen Hawkings thought process? Sure, complex math is really easy. What about seeing through the possibilities of complex problems, quickly? I simply cannot pretend to have that sort of processing power. For a diminished intellect, how can I pretend to be less intelligent? Sure, I can make bad choices deliberately. But there is also a learned caution that failure can bring. After being charmed six times, I would think the simplest mind would develop a defense, or even a psychosis to those who might try to dominate their mind.
Because of this, I will take a cue from Aftermath! and use the players intellect as the characters intellect. Instead of an intelligence score, there will be a learning score. I am currently calling thing Acuity. My instincts are to use old English rooted words where possible, so I can also go with wits or guile but neither of these cover the ability to learn. There is also comprehension, which might be the best to use.
Strength stats are not without problem, either. Every RPG I’ve laid eyes on has one. It makes sense, too. Strength is something we all grow up understanding — that of a parent, sibling, or bully being able to dominate physically is part of being an adolescent. This is true as adults. I was having dinner with my wife’s grandmother, and one of the servers there was massive. Close to seven feet tall, and well above 300 pounds. I’ll never be as strong as him. I’m not a small person, and I’m not particularly weak; but I will simply never be as strong as he is. But what does that mean in terms of functionality? Sure, if we are splitting wood, he can swing a heavier maul; he can carry a heavier pack in we were hiking. Could he carry an appreciably bigger weapon, or fire an appreciably larger bow? How much further can he throw a rock? There are certain intrinsic limitations depending upon what is at hand — a seven foot sword is going to be slow to recover a swing from, and personal strength will only lessen this. There is also the matter of being able to apprly this strength effectively. Consider the below gif:
No, that isn’t WWE. This is a light heavyweight bought between Dan Henderson (the guy going for a ride) and Daniel Cormier (the guy giving the lift). They both weighed in around 205 pounds. They are both freestyle wresting Olympians, albeit a decade separates their tenure. Yet, Daniel Cormier was able to lift up and throw down Dan Henderson in what was basically one motion. In D&D terms, Cormier might have a 16, while Henderson has a 15 or a 14 in strength. In D&D terms, Cormier would have to roll really well, and Henderson really bad for such a throw to happen. Yet, here he is performing a (less impressive) throw with similar ease:
Again, let’s point out that he did this to someone roughly his size, and roughly his skillset. They were both 10th level fighters with grappling expertise, to put it in D&D terms. He could have done this sort of stuff all night.
Here he is doing it in a different fight, against a heavyweight:
(If I’m killing wordpress, I’m sorry.)
This was against a guy who had vastly more experience, was bigger, and was skilled in grappling.
This isn’t simply a matter of strength. If we were to compare dead lifts, bench presses, or whatever else, they would be roughly comparable. We’re talking single digits in terms of D&D strength.
So, how do I model this in Silk Road? Good question. I don’t really know how.
I at least know the name I want to use. In keeping with my preference for old English, thews is my preferred term for strength. I want to make some sort of synergy; Daniel Cormier being a strong dude doesn’t mean he could pull the heaviest longbow at tours, even though he could have body-slammed the hell out of any of the archers.
Something else to consider — if Daniel had broken his foot, his hand, his thumb, or even his toe — how how would this impact his ability?
Coordination is my stat for fine motor skills. What does that mean, exactly? Can someone who plays piano well also play guitar well? Can he shoot a boy well? Tie a complex naval knot in the dark rain, upside down with a gale force wind? What about dodging an arrow? Getting the jump before someone else? No. This is has been the historical issue with “dexterity” stats — they cover feats of ability and skill that are wildly dispersed. Being able to scale a wall, walk a tight rope, shoot a bow, and dodge an arrow are all using the same physical chacharacteristics
If not, what do I do? It’s easy to have a tight definition when I exclude things, as I did with acuity. On a table top, I cannot translate someones manual coordination to their characters, however. There is also something immediately appreciable about fine motor skills — consider a major league pitcher being able to toss a baseball just so. It also has to do with the senses, touch, sight, sound, and even smell. It will not have the impact as thews would, but it will be more readily applicable.
Will is my final characteristic. Here, I am picking names — valor, courage, fortitude, determination — these all apply. Will has a more of a Germanic root. Ellen is the old English equivalent, but that has died in modern usage. Anyway. There comes a time when any man or woman will quit under certain circumstances. Torture is one. The question is not if you will break, but when. You see it in sports, too. Certain players wilt under pressure, some overcome an unbelievable amount of pressure and still prevail. RPG’s are stories about heroics. My intent is not to say “alright, your character exhausted her will, give me your dice” but to allow for extraordinary feats, and to set boundaries in survival situations.